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Learner Reviews & Feedback for The Language of Design: Form and Meaning by California Institute of the Arts

683 ratings

About the Course

In this course, critique is defined as a detailed, objective analysis of a work of graphic design and its effectiveness. Critique is an integral part of the making process for designers: it’s not just how we determine if a work of design is or is not successful, it’s how we move our work forward. Critique is also where other voices and opinions can be brought into the design process. This course will introduce a lexicon (or vocabulary) in order for you to demonstrate clearer and more considered ways of talking about graphic design in the context of critique. Through this lexicon and a provided Critique Framework, we will model and then practice objectively describing how well a work of design functions based on specific, clearly articulated criteria. By refining this skill, you will enhance your ability to communicate about design with peers, colleagues, and clients. This course is essential to anyone looking to develop and refine a critical vocabulary around talking about art and design, such as: - practicing graphic designers at all levels - future and current students of art or design programs - teachers teaching visual art, design, or related subjects - any stakeholder in a design project that needs to communicate effectively with designers on their team. This course is recommended to learners enrolled in either the Graphic Design Specialization or UI/UX Design Specialization on Coursera to further develop their skills in graphic design. You may take this course before, during, or after completing either Specialization. Note this is not an art appreciation course for a general audience. While no prior experience is required to begin, the knowledge and skills taught in this course is useful only if you have some relationship to design in a professional context, i.e., practicing, studying, or teaching design, or working directly with designers. No specific software or tools are required to complete this course....

Top reviews


May 19, 2022

It was well structured and every video, quiz and peer review helped the concepts and teachings really sink in. With that being said, I'm definitely going to take the course again and again and again


May 6, 2020

A very thorough journey toward the very core of visual communication. It gives you the vocabulary and criteria to embark on an effective and objective design critique.

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1 - 25 of 194 Reviews for The Language of Design: Form and Meaning

By Minjeong K

Mar 10, 2020

This is the course I wish I had taken before I pursued a career in design! My education and work has primarily been in designing for (digital / mechanical) functionalities, and I have been wishing to become more articulate in understanding art direction and style. This course taught me how to approach looking at a piece of visual design and how to talk about it. Now that I understand the approaches, I feel more confident moving onto making work that consciously uses specific languages of visual design to convey meaning.

By Jia Y G

Jun 16, 2020

The videos were very clear in explaining the lexicon and frameworks we can apply to critique the design. It also helps that numerous examples were used to demonstrate the application and pop quizzes were available throughout to test our immediate understanding of these concepts. Given also this is a qualitative course, the explanation provided by the instructors in the official quizzes were also very helpful and informative. A good first course to take to expose yourself to the terms and a brief introduction to principles of design and how to use them. Users can benefit from the course especially when they apply them immediately to their surroundings i.e. Instragram pictures/advertisements as we are all surrounded by design-related experiences.

By Pon P P

May 5, 2020

This course is easy to follow, very clear, and very elaborated. The teachers are very good and communicates the point clearly and slow enough to understand and digest. Thanks to the nature of the course which is "design", the awesome visual contents showed in the lectures kept me interested all the way and excited to be shown the next art.

This is very recommended for people pf all ages and skills that are interested in design and want to have more vocabulary to communicate to others about a work. I learned so much and hoping to learn more from CalArts.

By Son T

Jun 8, 2020

As a graphic designer working professionally in the field for over 15years I found this course to be very insightful. I genuinely feel that I grew a little bit more into my craft after having taken it. There is no doubt that you'll be working with a wide range of personalities in the world of visual communication. Objective critique is an invaluable skill and this course will set some standards that if you employ and more importantly share in your day to day work, you'll be better for it.

By James W

Jul 5, 2020

Short course that gives a good introduction to analyzing design elements. This will give you the framework and vocabulary to clearly convey points in your analysis,

By Ксения Ш

Nov 12, 2019

A good course in addition to Graphic Design. There are minor problems with the sound, it is interrupted between phrases and slightly cuts off the beginning of phrases, for a non-native English speaker, this complicates the process of listening.

By Lyndsaye R R

Feb 16, 2021

For an entry level course that welcomes beginning designers and non-designers, I feel the examples shown and pieces for critique were difficult for even experienced designers. While I'm glad I took the course to make sure I didn't miss any valuable design information, I was a little disappointed. It says in the course description how this course will help during the design process, but I honestly don't feel that was covered. Because the one instructor at times seemed to be mumbling, the text sometimes did not make sense and it was difficult to take notes.

By Leidy C S

Jun 17, 2020

This course was excellent, it was a little hard if you haven't study something about Art it can be really hard but at the end the instructors explain good and you end having the idea of how to do it on your own. I recommend it

By Sally P

Apr 13, 2020

The only design course that looks at practical real world design, such a WOW course. All the dash dot comma dash design primers never got me anywhere. Thanks so much for this course!

By Hamis E

Jul 6, 2020

If you're working in an industry where you have to collaborate or interact with designers, this course is for you. While it was a little hard for me to grasp an understanding of things, I eventually got my grip thanks to both the instructors, especially Randy who began explaining with the most common things possible and then proceeding towards more complex examples which felt like a walk in the park. For anyone who really wants to understand art, this is THE COURSE for you!

By J-Man

Oct 15, 2019

A deeper lok into graphic design which helps create a language for assessing other peoples work as well as your own. The examples used here show range of interesting works and assessing thier elements was both helpful and inspiring.

By Sofia V

Aug 26, 2020

Besides trying to find some form and meaning in a design of art, the course also teaches to make meaningful connections when you form and express your own thoughts.

By Carlos M S B

Jan 24, 2022

I was able to understand concepts utilized in the designing process of an artwork. It's a great course to learn about the process and analyzation of design.

By Alice M

Mar 19, 2021

I loved the continuous engagement with exercises and peer reviews. I think generally it’s the best way to learn.

I really loved this course :)

By Tara B

Oct 3, 2022

I am really happy for finishing this course. It has great information and I have learned a lot.

By Mireya

Jun 10, 2020

This course was a great eye opener as to how I create as an artist. I now have mroe tools. I didn't pay for the course but I worked on each of the lessons with my own prjects to practice. The instructors could have been more engaging, bring the fun that comes with creating. I would have loved to see updated samples as this was filmed a long time ago. The instructors seemed like they were just reading a script. I appreciate the course and will move forward. Thank iYou!

By E L

Aug 11, 2020

I finished all the assignments and every quiz on time but the course says it's still in progress... I've been waiting for two weeks to have my certificate but nothing happened.

Please fix this :)

By Pallavi

Jul 30, 2020

A beautifully designed course for all those who wish to learn design, graphics, posters, journals etc. The pace of the course was just right. The professors delivered the content in easy understandable language while using a lot of pictures and graphics. I liked the assignments too as they pushed me to think differently and understand the various elements used in graphics designing. I relished every bit of this program. Thanks to the CALArts Team and Coursera!

Best Regards,

Pallavi Chauhan

By Ronunda L

Oct 19, 2022

This course has helped me understand how to speak about, critique and participate in the world of art and design. Being able to learn the language around design has made my interest in museums and art more accessible, my professional work better - especially when completing reviews with subject matter experts, and helped me enjoy my hobbies more. Thank you so much Cal Arts! I definitely recommend taking this course if you have an interest in any form of design or art.

By Pratap P

Jul 14, 2020

This course is a short period of time and it's highly recommended for the Graphic designer. It gives excellent introduction to analyzing design elements. Basically It will helps to understand and how to implement the Critique framework in the real life . it was a little bit hard to understand first time , but if you didn't study something about Art before as liked me however if you focus the instructors explain than you will get the all point clear.

By Anurag B

Apr 27, 2020

I am a self-learned designer with years of professional experience, but I realized I need more knowledge and practice of articulating various elements of design to be able to work with people better. This course has been of immense help. I think if you are a designer, you will finish it faster but it will take a month of practice with different designs to get fluent with it. Thank you Coursera, Calarts, and professors for making this available.

By Sami A

Mar 25, 2023

Overall the course was very informative. I was able to use the new vocab and skills I was learning in practise in the assignments. I had previous experience with design language from taking design and art history classes and still felt like I was able to learn something. The only problem I had was with the peer reviewing, it seemed to be about 50/50 as to whether or not you'd get someone that actually put any effort into the review.

By Bojan B

May 18, 2020

Whole course is really amazing ! I never had opportunity to learn art on that way and there is not similar course anywhere. It is unique, maybe a little short because it makes us more hungry to learn from mentors. This course is pure gold and I hope that will be more. By the way I will enroll to more CalArts content because CalArts is amazing. Thank you guys. I feel more advanced now as graphic designer.

By Alex M

Jun 6, 2020

A wonderful and very approachable course both for beginners and for people who are well versed in the worlds of design and art. I am myself a visual communication graduate, but the course helped me wrap my head around topics I was either to shy to ask or topics I vaguely understood but very much needed to be explained about in a simplistic and well-structured manner.

By Epameinondas K

Nov 21, 2020

Very well organized lesson. It helps us understand the fundamentals of not only of graphic design, but any kind of visual art, also. It helps us recognize the characteristics of a visual composition and to entone the characteristics of our visual compositions to correspond in a good way to our audience. Well done to the teachers!